What's Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now
We are open! Or at least, working on it... All regions of Illinois are now in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan—almost all businesses, restaurants, and even indoor play spaces are allowed to open, with limited capacity. It can be a little tricky to know what has opened already, what is about to, and what the rules are. So we prepared a list of all the fabulous places that are now open in Chicago where you can take your kids. We've also tracked what safety measures these places are taking, and anything else families need to know before visiting (like if a destination requires or recommends buying tickets or making reservations online before you go).
We've all learned how quickly things can change (and in Chicago there's always the possibility of places closing because of extreme cold or snow), so please double check before bundling kids up and loading them in the car.
While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate distance. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded try using the “nearby” search feature on our event calendar to find something else to do.
Can you trust your eyes at the Museum of Illusions? Photo by Jody Mercier
Museums for Kids That are Now Open in and around Chicago
- Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA is back! The museum currently is planning to reopen on March 2. Check the website for additional information.
- Field Museum
Have your kids missed Sue, the most complete T-rex skeleton ever found, or maybe the mummies and bugs? They're back on display, with more than 100 hand sanitizing stations and flooring markings to encourage social distancing. Purchase timed tickets online and plan to carry your coat—the coat check is closed.
- Shedd Aquarium
Aquatic life from tropical fish to penguins can help you forget how cold Chicago's February is shaping up to be. Timed tickets are available for purchase from 9am-6pm, and guests must wear masks and follow one-way directions through the galleries to prevent crowding
- Art Institute of Chicago
Two limited time exhibits featuring artists Monet and Bisa Butler are on display at this cultural institution. Advanced tickets are required, and smaller galleries, coat check, and restaurants are closed.
- Museum of Illusions Chicago
This new museum barely had time to open before the fall wave of COVID-19, so its unique exhibits that twist reality in your vision have hardly been seen. Timed tickets, masks, and following the directional signs are required.
- International Museum of Surgical Science
Budding scientists may enjoy this small, quirky museum in the Old Town neighborhood. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Visitors must wear masks.
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Finally, tiny bricks for your kids to play with outside of your house, where you won't step on them barefoot! The museum has 12 attractions and rides and a 4D Lego cinema, all open.
- Elmhurst Art Museum
See the Wright Before the Lloyd exhibit before it closes February 14. The museum recommends advanced reservations for non-members. Take-home art kits are often available.
- Chicago History Museum
This Old Town standby is reopening March 4 at 25% capacity. Advanced tickets are encouraged. Current exhibits include "American Medinah" and "Remembering Dr. King."
- Museum of Science and Industry
Visit the baby chicks, giant railroad, fairy house, and U-505 submarine starting on March 4 for members and March 7 for the general public. The "Marvel: Universe of Superheroes" exhibit will be on display when the museum reopens.
- DuPage Children's Museum
This Naperville destination will reopen for private play in mid-March. For now, families can rent certain exhibits for use in their homes.
- Kohl Children's Museum
Currently open for private VIP sessions only, this North Suburban kids' favorite will fully reopen after Easter (April 4).
- Museums We're Still Tracking
The Adler Planetarium plans to stay closed until Phase 5 (when vaccinations are available to everyone). The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has also not announced a reopening date. And several of Chicago's smaller museums have not yet announced plans to reopen. We're on it, and will add to the list here as soon as announcements are made.
Safari Land is a big indoor play center where kids can run wild, while staying warm. Photo courtesy Safari Land
Indoor Play Spaces That are Open Now in Chicago
Just in time for the coldest weather of winter, we can play inside again! Many of Chicago's indoor play spaces have reopened, but several are limited to private play reservations. We will update our listings to reflect changes as businesses continue to open.
- LEGO Store Water Tower Place
Little master builders can experiment to their hearts' content, within COVID guidelines, at this Mag Mile shopping destination. It's right across the hall from...
- American Girl Store Water Tower Place
The store is taking reservations for favorite events for girls and their dolls, such as fan favorite Hair and Nail Spectacular. Face coverings are required.
- PLAY at Yorktown Center
Equipment is being more frequently sanitized at this mall play space in West Suburban Lombard. Bonus: Girl Scouts will be selling cookies at the mall during select weekends in February and March.
- Harold Washington Library Thomas Hughes Children's Library
Check out a book, or stay for a little play time. Storytime is not currently taking place, and masks are required.
- Knoch Knolls Nature Center
Open Saturdays only as of January 26, this water-themed nature center features a 900-gallon fish tank. Visitors must attend in groups of 10 or less, and masks and social distancing are required.
- Nelly's Playground
This west suburban play space is open at limited capacity for little kids to climb and play.
- Safari Land
Reservations are recommended at this Villa Park indoor play center. Attractions will be wiped down between uses.
- Enchanted Castle
An arcade with some extras including indoor mini golf, bumper cars, laser tag, and mini bowling delights kids in the western suburbs.
Now there are fun ways for kids to exercise beyond playing in the snow. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Boulder Chicago
Indoor Sports and Activities Now Open for Kids near Chicago
- Indoor Pools in and around Chicago
Warm up with a swim day pass or stay over for a staycation at one of Chicago's hotel destinations. Many require advanced registration.
Bowling, bocce, and dining are open with limited capacity in Chicago, Northbrook, South Barrington, and Oak Brook. Reservations are recommended.
- Brooklyn Boulders
Both the Lincoln Park and West Town locations are currently open. High touch surfaces in the gym are cleaned hourly with electrostatic sprayers, and sanitizing liquid chalk is used at the gyms. Masks are required.
- The Strike Zone
Indoor batting cages on the North Shore are ready to replicate summer. Cages are available for $35 per half hour.
- Asylum Skate Park
Learn to skate indoors before the summer skating season starts at this Skokie park.
- iFly Indoor Skydiving
The Lincoln Park, Rosemont, and Naperville locations are all open for daredevils who might not want to dive through the 15 degree clouds.
Places To See a Movie That are Open Now
Most movie theaters are open and operating at 25%. Movie-goers are required to wear a mask and socially distance while in the theaters. At AMC and Marcus theaters guests are still able to book private theatre rentals for a personal film showing for small groups.
- Chi-Town Movies
This soccer stadium turned drive-in offers lots of unique concessions and a movie experience in your car, even in the coldest conditions.
- AMC Movie Theaters
More than two dozen Chicago area locations are reopening with reduced capacities and menus.
- Marcus Theaters
Reserve a seat or a whole theater (for $149) at this chain's locations in Addison, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Elgin, Gurnee, and Orland Park.
Escape Rooms for Kids in Chicago
- Fox in a Box
Families or parents can enjoy this South Loop escape room, which is offering staggered start times and limited capacity to increase social distancing.
- Noggin Builders Kids Escape Room
Book your adventure in advance for this kid-forward escape room located inside Northbrook Court.
- Escape Factor Chicago
This River Forest escape room has rooms themed after tree houses and game shows. Game start times are staggered and each room includes only people from the same party.
Get ready for tired kids at naptime! Urban Air Adventure Park
Trampoline Parks in Chicago
Get your kids to jump off something that isn't your furniture at locations in Elmhurst, Aurora, Vernon Hills, and Orland Park.
- Urban Air Adventure Park
Trampolines, virtual reality, ropes courses, and rock climbing give your kids a chance to burn off some energy at these parks in North Riverside, Bloomingdale, Naperville, St. Charles, Mokena, and Crystal Lake.
Farm Experiences Now Open in and around Chicago
- Logan Square Indoor Farmers Market
Support local farmers at this Sunday farmers market on the Near Northwest side. A variety of vendors are still on hand.
- Farm Life in Winter
Learn about farming in the early 20th century at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago.
Places To See Animals That are Open in or near Chicago
- Cosley Zoo
This smaller West Suburban zoo is perfect for a cold winter day and has already reopened to the public. Timed tickets are required.
- Brookfield Zoo
Reopening to the public on March 1, Brookfield Zoo will require timed entry tickets, and buildings will remain closed.
- Lincoln Park Zoo
Members can visit Lincoln Park Zoo on February 27 or 28 before it reopens to the public March 5.
Eat inside, eat outside, eat in a greenhouse or igloo—the options are endless. Photo courtesy Aba Restaurant
Family Favorite Places to Eat That are Now Open in Chicago
Chicago restaurants where you can (warmly) dine outside are open, while to ease into reopening, indoor dining is currently capped at 25% capacity. So don't forget to make a reservation!
- Igloos, Carhops, and Greenhouses: Fun Chicago Outdoor Restaurants for Winter Family Dining
For those of us who are sick of eating at the same table where we do remote learning, but not ready to go back inside of a restaurant, warm outdoor dining options are available.
- 360 Chicago Observation Deck
Chicago's second highest building, 875 N. Michigan Avenue (fka the John Hancock) has reopened its observation deck and restaurant.
- Revival Food Hall
Like a food truck park without the trucks, this downtown food hall has lots of kid-friendly options like Mindy's Hot Chocolate Bakery, Antique Taco, and Smoque BBQ.
Little spaghetti monsters can get their fix of all things Italian at this River North Italian mega market.
- Ann Sather
Missed your cinnamon rolls during the pandemic? Get some in house now. The Broadway, Belmont, and Andersonville locations are all open at 25% capacity. (This on our list of 100 Things To Do With Chicago Kids Before They Grow Up—the rolls are that good.)
Just because indoor activities are opening up, we don't want to abandon the snowy fun. Photo courtesy of the Elmhurst Park District
Winter Sports Destinations Open for Kids Near Chicago
- Best Snow Tubing Spots Near Chicago
Whiz down these hills on a giant inflatable tube for an afternoon of fun outside without worrying about the sled shortage.
- Best Sledding Hills in and Around Chicago
Free, fast and fun: get outside for an exciting ride in or near your neighborhood.
- Places to Ski and Snowboard Near Chicago
Shred some powder within two hours of the city at these Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ski and snowboard destinations.
- Best Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks In and Around Chicago
Lace up your skates and put on your mask as you get out to one of these great skating destinations throughout the city and suburbs.
- Best Places to Hike Near Chicago with Kids
Most hiking spots have been open since May, but winter can give you a chance to see these parks in a whole new light (or lack thereof). Some even rent snowshoes!
Parks and Playgrounds Now Open in Chicago
Playgrounds are about to reopen! The city has announced during the last week of February that the lakefront is opening already, and in the coming weeks the park district will open more than 500 outdoor playgrounds and nature play spaces. But until your local playground is open (or it's warm enough to play on the icy equipment), try one of these walks...
- Chicago Riverwalk
Reopened just in time to turn the river green, the Chicago Riverwalk is a great place for a stroll when it's not too snow-covered.
- Chicago Lakefront Trail
The 18 miles of path are usually plowed and provide stunning views for families.
- The 606
The reused former train tracks are now an interesting 2.7-mile path through the Bucktown area.